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A “newbie’s” shifting perspective on RV etiquette

I am not a new “newbie,” but my perspective on RV etiquette is shifting. In 1999, I purchased a 26’ Winnebago Brave with the express purpose of traveling back and forth from California, where I had a home, to Kansas, where I was attending veterinary school. I never used the Winnie for recreational travel, but enjoyed using it when I needed to.

When I began traveling in the Winnie, I quickly learned the basic rules of etiquette when driving and when staying in RV parks: Turn your generator off when getting to camp. Be friendly and respectful of your neighbors and the condition of the campground. My dogs were on leash and I was very careful to clean up when they did their business. No loud parties (if you knew me, this was not a difficult rule to follow). Leave your site clean and litter-free. I routinely flashed lights for the truckers and other RVers when it was safe to change lanes. I got the same courtesy.

RVers are helpful and friendly

The first night on the road in Flagstaff, my neighbors helped us hook up the sewer, water and electricity. What I learned that night was that RVers are incredibly helpful and friendly and that people will go out of their way to help you.

This lesson held true for the next 20 years.

Fast forward to 2021. The Winnie died a peaceful death so it was no longer available for travel. So, as most of you know, I recently purchased a used 39’ Newmar toy hauler to move my large clowder of felines to California. Retirement was upon me and I had planned for many years to purchase another RV. I loved my time in the Winnie and enjoyed meeting fellow RVers. However, this time, I wanted to use the RV not only for moving but for recreational travel with my cats. I went about purchasing the Newmar entirely the wrong way. You can share my pain and get a modicum of amusement by reading the series in past RVTravel.com articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

California dreamin’; California etiquette

The cats and I made it to California despite the stress and travails of a not-so-perfect RV. We have been living for the past few months in a lovely RV park in Palm Desert. It is quite busy this time of year because of the influx of Snowbirds and, based on the number of California license plates, recreational campers.

While living here, I have made some observations about what has changed (or not) about RVing and RVers. I know much has been written about this, so this is just my two cents. 

My faith in the faithful RVers is not shaken. I have met some wonderful people who have helped me and have shared their RV tips and woes. It reinforces my love for this community.

However, there is a clear “new” vibe. The number of brand-new luxury Class As and fifth-wheels is quite apparent. There are new shiny trucks, too. Good for the RV park but good for us, too? I hope so. I think the growing popularity of RVing will help in the long run. The influx from new RVers during the pandemic will settle down. But there will remain “new” converts who, I hope, will learn from their “elders”—not old, per se, but experienced. 

There is a lot of work to be done.

Etiquette to be learned

The most apparent thing I noticed is people walking through occupied sites. I was taught this is very rude. How do you teach the newbies this? If one is outside enjoying the weather, politely pointing out the breach of etiquette is, of course, the thing to do. However, I admit a bit of apprehension about this. Anger in our society today is spilling into the RV community and one risks suffering the onslaught of a diatribe if an attempt is made. 

Tony Barthel wrote here about the RV lights left on all night. I turn my patio lights off at 9:00 p.m. to respect my neighbors’ quality of sleep. Most RVs have blackout shades, but I still think it polite to kill the lights. The LED lights are burning bright all around me and all night long, so my sense of politeness is not shared by many others.



There are so many dogs at the park

With very few exceptions, they are on leashes and their owners are being respectful of the rules. However, I have seen a few dogs loose and when I warned one RVer that their dog was loose, I got a dirty look and a dismissive hand gesture. Not cool. The park has dog parks, so loose dogs are a gross flaunting of the rules. Here is Gail Marsh’s post on dos and don’ts regarding dog park etiquette.

The same applies to children: unsupervised children running through campsites, riding bikes on grass and generally not being careful on the roads filled with huge motor vehicles. This is especially scary at night. My sister almost hit a kid riding with his dad between sites and into the road with oncoming traffic. It shook up my sister (in a tiny Honda fit) quite a bit. This is a wonderful setting for children to play, but parents must supervise and make sure they are safe and respectful of their neighbors.

I had a conversation with my sister about the etiquette in the park. I opined that the influx of new RV owners could be to blame for bad behavior and that over time they will learn. My sister thought it was a symptom of the overall increase in anger, intolerance, and rudeness in society. She attributes a lot to a dangerous sense of entitlement, but I hope she is wrong.

I will be moving into my house soon but hitting the road again this spring. I will look forward to meeting new people and sharing this wonderful life of RVing.

##RVT1036

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Dick Hime
3 months ago

Well written and tactful article. Common courtesy, personal responsibility, and respect begin at home long before one owns an RV. If it didn’t happen then, it’s not likely to become ingrained easily into a person of “adult” age, even if not of “adult” maturity, simply because they begin to RV. Clearly the author is of the former type rather than the latter. She started out right and polished her demeanor with the advice of others who had these desirable characteristics of society. Sometimes military service can instill these qualities if families haven’t but, being a combat veteran, I can say that sometimes military service also increases negative behavior. Having also been a law enforcement officer, I know too well how many warped psychological and behavior profiles there are. So, at age 74, my best friend of 54 years and I will continue to meet wonderful people while RV’ing and deal with those who aren’t so wonderful in the best way we can within God’s and man’s laws.

K Schuld
3 months ago

I am posting for the first time on this site. I have been reading the very helpful articles and opinions for three years and I felt it was finally time to comment. You see I am one of the “newbies”. I have a “shiny new truck” and a brand new fifth wheel. I also have two dogs. I am a “glamper” as you call us.

I began RV’ing last summer and I have met many wonderful people. However, I find a different type of experience than the one you describe. “I notice you must be new to this. I hope you follow the rules better than the way you back up.” This is typical of comments we here. We have heard comments from long time RVers at every park we have been too. Most, before we even get a chance to set up.

I would never walked through another persons site, not pick up after my dog, or keep my lights on after curfew. Please don’t judge all “newbies” in the same light. Character faults are what lead to the issues you are all describing, not “shiny” trucks or fancy new fifth wheels.

K Schuld
3 months ago

Thank you for your kind reply. Also, thank you for listening. Just look at some of the comments below and you will further see my point. Apparently driving a new RV with lots of bells and whistles makes me entitled. You see I think we have to be careful how we make our points. I agree with you that rude is rude and in my opinion, it goes both ways. I want to respect the knowledge of the experienced RVer, I just want that same respect in return.

Brent
3 months ago

We tent camp and now have a Quick Silver livin light tent camper at campgrounds (not RV parks). Neither has blackout curtains, and leaving the lights, even LED string lights on makes it almost impossible to get to sleep. It’s inconsiderate and rude.

Ray
3 months ago
  • Nope. It’s their sense of entitlement, engrained thru their educational experience.
volnavy007
3 months ago

For walk-thru folks, engage them in a conversation. Ask LOTS of questions. They are most probably on their way to some place and in a hurry so delaying them will “encourage” them to walk somewhere else instead of through your site. Might as well have fun with them.

Pam LoCoco
3 months ago
Reply to  volnavy007

Excellent suggestion.

CFerguson
3 months ago
Reply to  Pam LoCoco

Even better, ask them to join your obscure and obnoxious religion or political group.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
3 months ago
Reply to  Pam LoCoco

I’m sure CFerguson wasn’t referring to “your” group, Pam. Just referring to the campsite resident asking the trespasser to join the resident’s group. Yep, I think that would deter them from trespassing through a campsite again. 🙂 –Diane

Lex V
4 months ago

We live in an RV park in Anaheim Hills and I have to say…your sister’s take is correct. These people who are flouting rules and being rude are completely entitled. They come here from nearby communities (you can tell by their license plate frames where they bought their vehicles and its not far away) and turn their kids and animals loose while they party with friends and flout pandemic and park rules. I’ve even seen gatherings of 3 percenters and others flying gadsden flags in the wake of Jan 6. They are pretty ruthless in their rudness these groups.

It’s very sad to see because originally we’d found RVers both full time and recreational to be the nicest folks. Now we view each new rig coming in to spaces near us with great caution and wariness.

Virginia
4 months ago

If I turn up the radio in my car too loud, I can be ticketed for noise ordinance violation. But when I am in my RV, apparently there are no real “rules.” Just suggestions. That is why we have what we have — ” because I can!” On private property, there is no real way to enforce those suggestions. In a national/state/local park, if it violates any public property law then it can be enforced (doesn’t mean it will be since rangers have their hands full already).

Rudy
4 months ago

Hi ! Rudy here and I did RV ing in my 2500 Chevy 3/4 ton with self contained camper. Truck broke down with 200000 miles and I’m breaking down at 81. But boy what a ride.

Went to Burning man , fun fun fun and Amazing . Oh my what I was a part of.
Then on the beach in Westport Washington for 3 summers . Found stones and beach glass , crabs and salmon, razor clams ,oysters. And winter! Och. but then Quartzite Arizona in winter , joined rock club, senior club, gold mine, BLM camp.
People I met from Penmsylvania, Chicago, Minnesota farmer who hadn’t left the farm sence he was 14 and now 75. Some passed, some were sick but not ready to pass.
Mexico from Quartzsite is but 70 miles and open air restaurant with Margarita, chillereallo, taco de Cerones, Musical groups every where. Camp for FREE next to to American canal,

Jeanne
4 months ago

I think the big problem is, is that many of these RV glampers have never camped in a tent before, and never learned the basics of camp etiquette as a kid.

They buy these really expensive RVs with all the bells and whistles and, thus, think they are entitled to use them all, when ever and however they like – to the detriment of their neighbours.

As one poster suggested, the way to address it, is to have someone give a short intro, provide the rules in paper, and do regular walk abouts.

Bill
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeanne

I full-timed with someone for a few years in nice, new Class A. He’d never spent a night in a tent or an RV before. I never had to point out basic campground etiquette. I attributed that to his being a decent human, which I’d argue is far more rare than the number of folks who’ve seen the inside of a tent these days.

Robin Pack
4 months ago

I’m new to the rv thing and recently doing it full time in a just shy of 24′ travel trailer. Have been parked at a great new resort for a bit over a month now, probably a bit pricey for a spot to park however it’s an extended pull through. Hey, it’s half the cost of my prior mortgage so I’m good with it. Hearing a lot of folks packing up around sundown, wth, really? Close up shop when it’s getting dark out, not understanding that, whatever. What I mean by hearing, power tools to raise jacks and hammering on whatever they are removing, a {bleeped} moment runs through my head. In getting to the clubhouse there may be one or two vacant spots along the way, I stay on the road regardless rather than cutting through those spots. Mind you, the entire resort is a concrete pad with grassy areas between sites, gated, on site patrol, clubhouse, laundry, gym, pool and beer garden with a fire pit area, on site propane exchange too. Only thing missing is a grocery store…

Josie
4 months ago

The ones that get me are the people who come in late and make massive noise trying to park in the dark. Or they don’t know how to park and knock on my door to move my truck out of my site so they can use my space.
I’m full time and work from home so both these disruptions are costly. Use to be common courtesy to park before dark but also it’s safer to park before dark. I have had to park after dark and in those emergency cases I get a pull through for the night, close my doors quietly and only hookup electric. I won’t even lower my jacks.
I would never knock on someone’s door to have them move out of their spot for me. That is truly mind blowing. If it’s too tight to park then practice more or go to the office and say you don’t fit. This has only been a thing since the newbie pandemic wave. Seriously mind blowing.

Nick
3 months ago
Reply to  Josie

I would much rather someone ask me to move my vehicle, than hit it while trying to park their big rig.

Jack L Roderick
4 months ago

To me, a light left on, children making noise playing, using chalk on the pavement, or someone cutting through my site to save walking halfway around the campground to go shower is what I consider minor, if not normal human behavior.
What bothers me are those people that have a low tolerance for minor infractions and feel they have to be the campground enforcer with an in-your-face type attitude.
I’m not a young newbie camper, I’m 84.

Christine
4 months ago

I have seen what you are seeing and I agree with your sister, the overall lack of civility in almost everything these days is a problem but even worse is the sense of entitlement to do as you please without concern for others is at an all time high in the country and it is seeping into the RVing community.

I understand in certain campgrounds where there is a lot more recreational weekend stays you’re going to have issues with people really not understanding the rules and it would be nice if they read the campground rules but many see it as just the “fine print” and don’t bother.

However, now you see it everywhere and it isn’t always just newbies but this influx of RVers brings with it the same people that are rude no matter where they are, and don’t feel the rules apply to them. Another area is theft. It happened in one state campground so we have determined we have to stay in gate guarded resorts. It’s sad but we’re hopeful this will die down after the rush is over.

Donald N Wright
4 months ago

I tend to use solar lights outside, the pumpkins or the flamingoes, if there is an awning, a Luci light. A full moon is always a blessing. Some folks are afraid of the dark and light up their campsite. There are dogs everywhere, I sprinkle pepper around the base of trees in my site, and cover the electrical post with a black plastic bag. I stay friendly with the volunteers and well as the work campers, and they drop by when they can.

Mike
4 months ago

While I agree with the sister’s comments, I also believe that campground management, or lack thereof, is having an impact.

Some campground owners are very good about covering some basic courtesy items upon arrival and in the “flyer” they hand out, but more than that they are very visible making the rounds and reminding any campers pushing the rules of their responsibilities while using the park. Usually I find that these campgrounds don’t have nearly as many etiquette issues as campgrounds where the owners/managers “disconnect” as soon as one finishes registration and walks out the door.

Last edited 4 months ago by Mike
wanderer
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Amen. The good manners have vanished, gone to the same place all those friendly hosts, clerks, and rangers went.

Who the heck expects perfect behavior from literally hundreds of campers, when there is literally no one keeping an eye on things? Yesterday I stopped to check in to a ‘resort’ with 800 sites, unmanned at 3 p.m. except for 1 security guard who apparently is expected to park people and who knows what else. No thanks. Left, went to a place run in a professional manner.

alex
4 months ago

Paraphrasing Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in the context of RV Park communities: some residents are more equal than others. If you rent a space in a ownership park, you’ll encounter less than helpful and sometimes nasty neighbors who believe renters don’t belong in “their” park. If you buy a lot in a Homeowner Association managed RV park, there will be more quid pro quos than at a Roman swap meet. Entrenched Board members get favors from individuals who may find ways to harass, menace, vandalize and intimidate other residents. This isn’t true of all communities, but take time to become familiar with the “Governing Documents.” HOAs exist solely for the purpose of enforcing rules intended to benefit all residents, not just the entitled few.

Mark K
4 months ago

We have been full time RVers for about a year now, but have had an RV for about 5 years. We have met some wonderful people while full time, with very few negative experiences. Thinking back I can only think of one negative, it was a consistently barking German shepherd. When my wife said something to the owner, she said he was supposed to bark as it was a dog. The owner would hit the dog with a water bottle while telling it to shut up. I went over to pet the dog one time and I think he just wanted companionship as he was so happy to have someone pay attention to him. We have two rescues, one a Siberia husky and another a husky mix. We take care of them, walk them on a leash and clean up after them. All that said, I think 99% of RV folks are respectful and helpful.

wanderer
4 months ago

It depends where you go. If you’re in a crowded park designed for Class As who are paying a fortune to be there, and there’s 25 rules, but not enough ‘elbow room’, that’s kind of a breeding ground for entitled behavior. I never walk through occupied sites and gave a recent trespasser a cold stare, but it’s not worth a fight.

But I also didn’t design campground loops which force some of the campers to have to hike a roundabout path for 1/2 mile to reach a bathroom or the office.

We are starting to see the human cost of making sites too small for the families occupying them, to maximize profits.

Bugsy
4 months ago

So sad and so true. Have to agree with your sister. People these days feel “entitled “. It’s actually being taught to them in our schools. Very sad!

Geary Baroni
4 months ago

What campground are you staying in Palm Desert CA? I owned a home in Palm Desert Greens Country Club along Country Club between Monterey and Portola. Sold it several years ago and relocated to TN. Planning on RVing back to Palm Desert CA next winter. Would appreciate your thoughts on the park your staying in, name, location. Is it the one on Frank Sinatra ?

Last edited 4 months ago by RV Staff
Ellie
4 months ago
Reply to  Geary Baroni

Both our kids moved to Palm Desert in 2020 so we have stayed at Emerald Desert on Frank Sinatra Dr. several times. Very, very nice, but a little pricey for what we need (basically a place to sleep). One of their three dog parks was a huge ponding basin-type place and our big runner LOVED it. Unfortunately, it was taken out the last time we were there.